Debts, the first 5000 years

David Graeber has researched the history of debt over the past 5,000 years. He wrote a book about this entitled: “Debt, the first 5000 years“. (including via torrentz can be found in digital version) Below a description of his book and an explanation of his writing in the interview below.

Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems — to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There is not a shred of evidence to support it.

Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods — that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. 

Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like "guilt," "sin," and "redemption") derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.

Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history — as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.  



David Graeber shows that people have been concerned with questions about how to deal with debt for 5,000 years. And how money changers, the predecessors of today's bankers, are viewed. Throughout history it has also been shown that popular uprisings are very often caused by major debt crises ... It is interesting to note that the idea that debts must always be repaid is absurd. But he also gives many examples of how debt has been used throughout history to put an entire population in the chain of debt. In short, an exceptionally educational view on the history of debt. Backlight also spoke with Graeber and made a broadcast of his contributions.

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-) 2000 years of struggle for control of the money system
-) The top of the money pyramid, the Rothschilds
-) Greece has been stripped bare, on to the next
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19 thoughts on “Schulden, de eerste 5000 jaar”

      1. You're welcome.
        Just a different topic. I think you also have a website about human rights. Is this correct? The following has to do with this. I just heard an item on the radio that two Greeks are filing a lawsuit at the ICC in The Hague against the Greek government for genocide against the Greek population. They believe that the Greek people are being done a great injustice. From a legal point of view it is not possible at all and a hopeless case according to a legal specialist I heard, but it would be different from a human rights point of view. There seem to be legal treaties signed for this by almost every European country and there also seems to be such a thing as a Council of Europe. It might be interesting to write an article about what the legal possibilities for the Greek people to invoke human rights and the encroachment thereof by the Greek government under pressure from Europe.

        1. Well the sad thing is that human rights only exist on paper but have no legal status in the Netherlands or Europe. In Europe, however, you do have the ECHR and that is legally enforceable, but well, that is only possible after a lot of litigation and what if you are finally right? 

          George Carlin says it all, power does what it wants, it has always been and always will be. Greece has been stripped to the bone to the banking cartel and I fear it is a matter of time before the exact same thing happens here. In fact, we will soon be allowed to pay 2% extra VAT ...

          It is almost a kind of curse when you see through this bank fraud game and in the meantime you consciously see the breakdown of all of Europe taking place around you. And yes then you can go to this court, but hey, look at Bush and Consorts nothing has ever been done about it, yet while they have almost one and a half million deaths on their conscience.

          So I estimate the chance at 0.0 that something concrete useful for these Greeks will come out.  

        2. Greece as an example for the Netherlands. Those are not pleasant prospects. But what I find interesting is: what can we do about it ourselves? As a European, how can you withdraw from this game? Not everyone has the luxury of setting up a cabin somewhere on the heath and being completely self-sufficient. As citizens in a modern society, we have become very dependent on food and drink you get from the supermarket. Devices have become too complex to repair them yourself. Gas, water and electricity come to your home via a complete network. All dependencies that we have no influence on. But need to be able to live.

  1. Interesting. Debt as a cause for money, instead of debt being invented because of money. Fits a lot better in the picture I have of the economy. I think I'm going to read the book. 

    I think it is very important that there are more open debates about the morality of money, debt, property and our entire capitalist system as an ideology. Too many people have no idea how the economy works and who controls it.

  2. Unfortunately, I am not surprised that the mainstream story of the history of money is one pure lie appears to be. Do you see that the use of money and debt is much older than Christianity? And that we are not so much descended from the Roman - Christian tradition, but even more from the Babylonian / capitalist tradition?

    So I read in other words: the story of your history is also a pure lie. Guess which of the two groups could have done that: the creditors or the people in debt? 

  3. Yes, another lie that we will pierce through, I will add it to the list of the contemporary created impression about the functioning of the current money system in the general image of people, a free press and a democracy where citizens have something to say. Or am I a bit negative now?

    He has really fascinating insights and if we can look back almost 5,000 years now, I hope that we are about to get to the beginning of these jokes. It is very interesting how he says that by expressing debts in a concrete abstract something like money, debts get a whole different status and they become transferable. This also makes it more impersonal and makes inhumane demands much easier to pay off that debt.  

  4. somethingist

    Hi Douwe,

    I have yet to look at it, but just judging by your text: I don't believe it is smart to * not * repay debts, otherwise you will disrupt the entire system.

    As you know, I really only think that interest should not exist and therefore should not be repaid either. In the meantime, the Dutch distributor of the ideas of the #MPE also has its own WordPress site and can be found on twitter under the name @MonetaryJustice, and I would like to invite everyone here to join us in talking about this at nujij about this vision:

    1. Hey Ietsist, do you know if he might want to write a piece about MPE for an article here. I have already asked other people such as from LETS, the Color Economy and the Fair4all Network. I would also like to have the story of MPE very clearly here again, but so far I have not been able to get a really good person to explain this in a clear article. All tips and people who can help with this are very welcome. Do you not know whether you could and would like to play a direct or indirect role in this?

  5. Hi somethingist,
    Thanks! Indeed, it is not fault what the problem is. Debt enables us, for example, to buy a home while we do not yet have the means to do so. A second fallacy that many people make is that we borrow money from a bank, well, we do not borrow money from banks. Everything that banks do at marginal costs is, as an intermediary, print our (mutual) payment promises on their paper and yes, at interest, so that you pay your house 2, 3x or more. So essentially what MPE does is eliminate the middleman.

    1. Hey hey, thank you, is it possible that we will publish that front page here with a link so that the readers can get a better understanding of your system here? I can just copy the page as you link it but of course you can write a special piece, I don't know what you prefer? 

      Greetings Douwe 

  6. somethingist

    hi Douwe,

    He asks me to accept his posts via twitter (@monetaryjustice). (I myself am not an expert in this field, nor in favor of adhering to people like Mike Montagne (accusing all others who happen to say the same thing, or about the same thing via other routes, of “plagiarism”.)

    I do believe that the system he advocates is foolproof. Would have thought about the same thing yourself, more or less simultaneously with you (whole hordes of people at the same time), but if you then mention videos that appeal to you, such as Zeitgeist, the Money Masters, or Money as Debt, you are “wrong” or you are committing "plagiarism". I find that very unfortunate. Your style of trying to work out something beautiful together appeals to me much more than competing with each other with the honor of being “the great inventor”.

    I hope @moneyjustice (or turtle63 on nujij) will also reach out to others who are really on a similar route, instead of fighting them. Local let-systems for example, although only very limitedly applicable in this complex world, and the pursuit of permaculture, is nevertheless very sympathetic!!/MonetaryJustice

    1. Hey Ietsist, thank you very much for your mediating role, I'm going to post a piece on MPE tomorrow. Local systems are nice for labor and local products, but I think it will be difficult for global trade. I am very curious how people will react to this. :-)


  7. Hi somethingist,
    I am very open minded and certainly not a guru follower. I always stay alert and critical like most people here I think and that's how it should be.
    But if you or anyone else knows a different solution to inflation / deflation, systematic manipulation of money and property, and insoluble debt problems because interest continues to multiply debt continuously and irreversibly into oblivion, please let me know.
    Mike is certainly not a indicator type and does this primarily for his country. He has been working on this for 43 years and when at 5 to 12 all of a sudden 25 million monetary reformers with really the most idiotic theories that only divide it, I imagine you are trying to rectify that. Those guys from Zeitgeist bv have looked in Mike's kitchen for six months and were suddenly out of the picture until the Addendum came out and the Zeitgeist movement with donate buttons all over the site. And there are so many, such as Bill Still, Ellen Brown, Margrit Kennedy, Money as Debt etc… too many to mention. But we have all their false propositions on file and will soon be available on the new website.
    Mike gets the credit he deserves from me. I would like to invite you and everyone to the MPE Students Skype Group where you can ask all your questions. (live with Mike and many others from around the world). Send an email to me: and I'll take care of the further details.

  8. somethingist

    I'm sorry, turtle, I totally agree with how Mike Montagne sees it, and also believe that this is the only truly and definitively workable solution, but

    a) I had come to this conclusion myself by simply thinking about the phenomenon of interest (before I even saw all those videos), about debt, about money as a medium of exchange. It wasn't until much later that I ran into you with this story. I myself had already posted these things without a mathematical approach, it was only very good to see that apparently someone else had come to the same conclusion years ago with arithmetic arguments.

    b) all other initiatives of Let circles and transition towns and “own” currencies ”, I find particularly sympathetic and, on a small scale, absolutely not in contradiction with your MPE, that can be done right next to it.

    c) the attitude of “we will get hold of those plagiarists, the evidence will be published shortly” does not really require further investigation. If your attitude is * not *, that ideas should be freely shared without any "copyright" attached to it, in my opinion you belong to those we just want to get rid of: Those who file lawsuits because something belongs to "them" . Apple, with the letter “i”, or Medicines, due to patent law * not * affordably available to everyone who needs them… and so you can go on and on.

    That is precisely the society we want to get rid of! I'll tell you, if I had figured out that mathematical model (little chance because I'm an alpha female), I would have spread it as freely and as far as possible, just * requesting * to do that for free, rather than taking any rights to it. claim! I think the men of Zeitgeist, inspired by Montagne (among others), understood THAT correctly when they made everything available for free. In that sense, they have an edge over anyone who refuses, and wants to * earn * from making the world a better place. That is in * contradiction * with each other! It is unfortunate that “people” always want to hear a name, so the name of Peter Joseph is now “sacrificed”, ie he has made himself so vulnerable that he now knows what all is. 

    That you even mention Margrit Kennedy as a plagiarist is very rude to me: I am convinced that this woman has never heard of the illustrious Mike Montagne. She explains very clearly what is wrong. Brave, for a German, because the first to abolish interest in Dld. first advocated was an architect of the third reich! Fortunately, the man got out on time and is not partly to blame for the enormous mass murder that followed. The fact that she then leaves open what the solution should be is only to her credit. She hints a bit, but does not dare to continue towards MPE. So what? We're not going to claim that Mike Montagne stole all his ideas from a Nazi, are we?

    We are all looking, at least certainly the people who think along with Douwe, for other possibilities to make our global economy healthy. (And not just the US!) I agree that the MPE or whatever you want to call it, is the best, but I certainly don't want to rule out other ideas. Importantly, no one * earns * from managing “money,” or any other medium of exchange. And yes of course you can also just break away from the couches by just doing it yourself again, together, but unfortunately we do not produce the mobile phones within a radius of 5 km, nor the means of transport, the TVs, etc. etc. And because cooperatives do not always be transparent and honest, I strongly plead for urging the * government * to take over the money production and distribution system, and to take care of this for us without interest. After all, we pay tax for that!

    Those few ICT people for management, a few data typists for entering numbers, and civil servants (credit rating agencies) who that cost per country, is a * pittance * in terms of expenditure. After all, that money is no longer traded: What you have saved remains, what you have borrowed, you pay back 100%. But no more 110 or 300 %! And, never more dependent on other countries, because each government creates exactly enough for its own residents :)

    I believe in a kind of “awakening” of many people, more or less at the same time. That someone already thought something like this in 1968 (sorry, I was only 3 years old then, the realization of “this is not good!” Came to me, only when I was 12 years old, when explaining the treasure fleet account), and that in a mathematical model poured, very beautiful. But as you can see, that Nazi guru preceded him in every case. And that is not really a movement you want to be associated with. Perhaps it is also why there is still so much opposition to it, in addition to the “what the farmer does not know, not what the farmer does”.

    good luck anyway and as far as I'm concerned, lose the names! :-) (Although Douwe Beerda is a name that I will follow closely, but that is not someone who puts himself in the foreground or claims that ideas are his ;-)

  9. Somethingist, It is not the intention to punish or take plagiarists to court. It is purely to show that they are wrong on many points and we want to keep them "accountable" for that. That is the only purpose of this, to deal with half solutions once and for all. MPE is so much more than you know about it so far. Even after 3 years I still learn new things. Feder may have been a precursor to "sacred economies" but he also failed to arrive at what MPE is. Interest is not the only problem we have to tackle. I would like to invite you to exchange ideas with Mike via Skype (possibly with me). I can't do it alone either. Division is a great enemy. United we stand, devided we fall!

    1. Hey Monetary Justice, made an article of it and is now scheduled for 9am tomorrow morning. If you think there are things that need to be changed, you can always email me via info@human 
      And I can also add your name as an author, but I don't have it now, so refer now to the blog.

      Hopefully, the piece will provide an interesting discussion and will give the idea of Mathematically Perfected Economics a little more publicity here among readers.


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